Aug 6, 2018Farm Bill conference set
The Senate has chosen its slate of members to negotiate the 2018 Farm Bill conference agreement. The Republicans will be represented by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. For Democrats, the Senate conferees include Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
In all, 47 House Republican and Democratic members will square off with these nine senators to resolve the differences between the two bills. In June, the House version of the Farm Bill narrowly passed 213-211, while the Senate passed its bill 86-11.
The National Potato Council said the potato industry and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance are pressing for passage of some key provisions in any final conference report:
- Restoring resources for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program that is vital for potato trade issues and reforming its operation to make it more responsive and efficient (Senate).
- Ensuring $80 million is available annually for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. This is an increase of $25 million annually over the current available amount (Senate).
- Enacting a regulatory reform package that reduces the burden on individual producers and ensures that valuable crop protection tools are available to address current and emerging pest and disease threats (House).
- Maintaining vital resources for agricultural export promotion programs through the creation of a new Foreign Market Development Program at USDA (both bills).
- Supporting continued operation of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and vital pest and disease prevention and eradication programs (both bills).
The NPC also said that Senate leadership indicated their desire to send a conference report to the President shortly after the Labor Day Recess.